LOS ANGELES: New release War for the Planet of the Apes won this weekend's war for box office supremacy in North America, riding on strong reviews and ever more natural-looking apes to take in an estimated US$56.5 million.
The Fox/Chemin Entertainment production managed to outdraw Spider-Man: Homecoming, which fell by more than half from its opening three-day weekend to pull in US$45.2 million, website Exhibitor Relations reported.
War, directed by Matt Reeves, tells the continuing story of how intelligent primate Caesar (Andy Serkis) and other apes battle the forces led by an evil human dictator (Woody Harrelson). The film, made for US$150 million, scored a glowing 94 per cent on the Rotten Tomatoes site.
Its closest weekend competition, Sony's Spider-Man, draws a similarly strong 93 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes. The film stars Tom Holland as a young Peter Parker, ably mentored by Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man as he takes on bad guy Vulture (Michael Keaton).
In third place was Despicable Me 3, far behind at US$18.9 million. In Universal's animated offering, Steve Carell stars as the voice of bad guy-turned-protagonist Gru – and his twin brother Dru, while Kristen Wiig voices Gru's wife Lucy and South Park co-creator Trey Parker plays villain Balthazar Bratt.
The film has done much better overseas than at home, according to Hollywood Reporter, which says its global gross of US$519.4 million includes a whopping US$113.6 million from viewers in China.
Placing fourth was Sony's heist thriller Baby Driver, with Ansel Elgort (The Fault in our Stars) starring as a gifted getaway driver with a hearing problem. It netted US$8.8 million.
And in a surprising fifth place among the big-studio blockbusters was independent rom-com The Big Sick from Lionsgate, taking in US$7.6 million in its first week in wide release.
Sick stars Kumail Nanjiani in the semi-autobiographical role of a Pakistani-American stand-up comic who resists his parents' insistent efforts to find a wife for him, and instead falls in love with comedy-club customer Emily, played by Zoe Kazan.
The film, co-written by Nanjiani and the real-life Emily, his wife, rates a resounding 97 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and is credited by the New York Times with no less than "revitalizing an often moribund subgenre with a true story of love, death and... everyday comedy."
Rounding out the top 10 were:
Wonder Woman (US$6.9 million)
Wish Upon (US$5.6 million)
Cars 3 (US$3.2 million)
Transformers: The Last Knight (US$2.8 million)
The House (US$1.8 million) -- AFP